When I arranged the decorations for my son’s birthday party it turned out that he was terrified of balloons. And I mean terrified.
It took us a while to understand that he was afraid the house would fly away, like in the animated movie Up.
No talk about these balloons were non-flying no helium balloons and that a house doesn’t fly away in real life helped. The balloons were banished to the guest's bathroom, where I filled the ceiling of the minimal compartment with balloons (with the use of some tape).
And my mind kept thinking about my responsibility as a screenwriter.
In the movie Up the owner of the house deliberately ties a huge bunch of balloons to his house with the purpose of flying away with it. It is his intention and a successful runaway. We are supposed to feel he is a lucky guy.
But from a child’s point of view, a stable place in life is removed. No matter how happy the old man in the house is, what he does is unexpected and a house is obviously something at least my son thinks should remain where it is, safe on the ground.
Is this something a screenwriter could be held responsible for?
The whole point with the story is to put that very house on that very spot. The house cannot remain, because then it will be torn down.
I cannot see how to do a better setup.
A story cannot be about being safe. A movie is the option for us all to do something we would never do.
I think a screenwriter is responsible for displaying good values and a variety of complex humans.
A flying house with all the good intentions in the World will always scare some little kid, just as Lightning McQueen in Cars when he drops of his trailer and becomes lost could be scary.
But both these examples show something very important and that is what happens afterwards: a change in life does not need to be a bad thing.
And that I think is one of the most important aspects of storytelling: it helps us all to go forwards.
Filmography links and data courtesy of
The Internet Movie Database.